If you have trouble concentrating, your office could be to blame

From noisy phone calls to messy desks, open plan offices can be troublesome.

Now, we’ve been over this before – how open plan offices are proving troublesome for workers – and a recent study by Haworths for Dezeen has added fuel to the fire.

If you’re currently sitting in a row of desks surrounded by your colleagues and struggling to tune out that annoying ringing phone, or an office whistler, know that you’re not alone.

Gone are the glory days of cubicles – now there is little to no privacy in office spaces.

Why do we have open plan offices?

It was Robert Probst who invented the open plan office layout in the 1960s, and his intention was to liberate workers and improve their working lives. But the opposite seems to be true, with more people having to get to work early and leave late in order to accomplish what they need to.

One of the advantages of sitting amongst your coworkers is that it’s supposed to encourage a sense of amicable collaboration, but conversely, it has been proven to do the opposite, according to research conducted by The Guardian; coworkers become more irritable and uncooperative instead.

Haworth’s latest findings suggest that workers actually lose as much as 28 per cent of productive work time because of distractions and interruptions – not to mention all those tea rounds for your 12 desk mates.

How can we fix the problem?

Working environments are becoming noticeably more fluid, with many companies embracing hot desking, allowing employees to work from home or creating ‘focus zones’ for better concentration.

International co-working pioneers WeWork is set to expand over the next year, and the new Google London office in the works is set to include gyms, massage rooms, a swimming pool, a sports pitch and a rooftop garden (planted, apparently, with strawberries).

But, non-Google workers, do not fear – there are things you can do to get more personal space, however basic your office is.

Block them out

If you can’t hear them, maybe they’ll go away. If you’re the sort that can’t listen to music while you work but still can’t put up with the inane chatter between the two girls sitting next to you then try a website like for some white noise and a fancy pants new pair of headphones to finish off the look.

Hide your face

It’s pretty weird that you spend eight hours a day looking at the same person over the top of your computer screen. You probably know their face better than you know your own. Which is weird, because you don’t actually know anything else about them, except for the fact that when they’re concentrating they hum the first line of I Say A Little Prayer For You over and over again.

Block them out and sort your back problem out by stacking your computer on top of a couple of books. Just make sure it’s a sturdy stack yeah? Facilities don’t take kindly to a broken screen.

Establish some boundaries

Especially important if you’ve got a messy neighbour. Traditionally, the boundary between you and your adjacent co-worker falls where your desk ends and hers begins. If she’s big on paper work though, that line might get a little blurry.

To counteract this, make use of your larger desk props (inbox tray, phone, stack of books or magazines…) and place them at either end of your desk, thus marking out your terriftory and creating an invisible line which we bet they won’t cross. Enjoy your space sister.

Use the space underneath your desk

Who else can see under your desk apart from you? No-one. Making it your one and only private space in the office. Therefore, get something a little special going on under there, whether it’s a nice rug, a personal mini fridge (that’ll stop Steve in marketing nicking your sandwich), or a meerkat performing a juggling act, whatever it is, just make it yours.

It is now your happy place to look down to for a bit of solitude next time your neighbour starts showing off his baby pictures. Again.

via The Debrief

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